Anti-Islam Wilders scares Dutch

CAIRO – The Bernards are not Muslims. But like many in the Netherlands, the rise of anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders and his far-right party’s gains in the European Parliament polls are frightening them.

“It is getting scary,” Marjina Bernard, a 52-year-old from the city of Rotterdam, told the Sunday Telegraph on June 14.

Wilders’ party came second in the European Parliament elections earlier this month, winning four of the country’s 25 seats.

The party, which campaigned on an anti-Islam, anti-immigrant platform, more than doubled its strength in the European legislature.

Many fear this popularity might propel Wilders and his party to power in the next general election.

“After this I really believe that Wilders could become prime minister in the 2011 parliamentary elections, or at least set the political agenda,” said a concerned Alfred Bernard, a lawyer.

“This has the feeling of what happened to Germany in the 1930s.”

Wilders, whose party has nine seats in the 150-member Dutch parliament, did not conceal his premiership ambitions.

“That is our biggest job. We had an enormous success last week and our biggest task is to keep up momentum,” he told the Telegraph.

“If my party becomes the biggest party, I would be honored to be prime minister.”

  • More extreme

Many believe that Wilders has become more racist and hostile to Muslims, and would go further now after his European poll win.

“He is becoming more extreme,” said Marjina.

“He has made it respectable to speak out against Muslims.”

Wilders, who founded his anti-immigrant party in 2006, is notorious for his rants against Islam and Muslims.

He released in March 2008 a 15-minute documentary, entitled “Fitna” or sedition in Arabic, accusing the Qur’an of inciting violence, drawing international condemnation.

Wilders had earlier called for banning the Muslim holy book describing it as “fascist.”

“Islam wants to dominate our society…It’s in opposition to freedom,” he told the Telegraph.

He vowed new set of policies against Muslims, who make up one million of the Netherlands’s 16 million population, once his party seizes power.

“We would stop immigration from Muslim countries and close Islamic schools. We want to be more proud of our identity.”

Alfred fears more people might find Wilders racist views appealing, especially amid a stifling global recession.

“People are disoriented because of the economic crisis. Everywhere there is dissatisfaction with mainstream politicians.”

But Martin Voltuees, a café owner and a resident of Rotterdam, disagrees.

He believes that the Dutch society is too tolerant to be swayed by Wilders xenophobic, extremist ideas.

“We have always been a culture of immigrants ever since the Jews arrived,” insisted Voltuees, 46.

“You see in Holland black and white, Muslims and Christians, intermarrying, so perhaps these problems are solving themselves.”

Source: IslamOnline

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